It's that time for another week of NASCAR random thoughts and man has Brian France given us a lot of to write about this week.
Brian France needs a better PR person
NASCAR fans love to beat up on Brian France, but now I'm starting to feel a teeny, tiny bit sorry for the guy (notice I said teeny tiny, as in, not a whole hell of a lot). Whether it's proclaiming that NASCAR is on the right track, (nope) or trying to plays both sides of the national anthem controversy (dumb), or embarrassing himself at the sport's premier awards ceremony (dumber), the guy has just been a walking disaster this year. I don't know him, so he could very well be the nicest person you'll ever meet. But it appears NASCAR fans aren't giving him the benefit of the doubt, and with the sport facing tremendous challenges (sponsorship issues, big names leaving) France needs to not only pick up his game, but hire someone who can help him not look like a dolt. Leadership = important.
You go Martin Truex Jr.
If it weren't for Dale Jr. retiring, he'd be the story of the year. Success didn't come easy; he struggled. His life partner is battling a particularly vicious form of cancer. Jim Watson, a crew member, died of a heart attack and team owner Barney Visser had emergency heart surgery. Through it all, Truex Jr. persevered, and showed his human side on more than one occasion by breaking down -- especially when it comes to his long-time love, Sherry Pollex. He's a compassionate competitor, and someone NASCAR should hitch its wagon to.
Where was Danica Patrick?
For all of the pomp and circumstance, Danica Patrick was strangely absent at Las Vegas. You would think NASCAR would pull out all of the stops to have her there, given her popularity. Who knows? Maybe they did behind the scenes, and it just didn't work out. But, this gets back to a lack of leadership and foresight. Even if she couldn't be there, why not do an Emmy/Oscar/Grammy trick and have her pre-record a message? Good Lord folks, next to Dale Jr. she's the biggest face in NASCAR, and unless it turns out she just refused to participate, someone screwed the pooch on this one.
- Denny Hamlin says Chase Elliott set the rules on how they'll race each other. He's wrong. Hamlin set them.
- Danica Patrick is reportedly in talks to do some TV work. She'd be great.
- There should be a way to ban trolls who advocate violence and hate from social media (spare me the free speech argument. If you're vile enough to write you want to kill someone's daughter, as happened to racing champ Yvan Muller, you should be gone)
- It doesn't look like Dodge is coming back to NASCAR anytime soon. Darn.
- NASCAR's on-track attendance expected to drop for 10th-straight year. That should set off alarm bells.
- I think Kurt Busch will sign with Stewart-Haas, but man, the sponsorship woes are bad
- Kyle Busch wearing that elf custom and bad sweater made my day
- The Indy 500 should be the most watched race of the year because it's Danica Patrick's last go round
- I love that Formula 1 takes away wins for post-race inspection violations. Are you listening, NASCAR?
- This week's shout out: Derrike Cope. I talked to him last week, and he's just going to keep on keeping on, even at age 59.